BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
MUTOKO High School has reportedly recorded an outbreak of COVID-19, with 12 teachers and four Advanced Level (‘A’ Level) students testing positive on Monday.
This has prompted teachers to call for the immediate closure of non-examination classes before the virus spreads to other students.
Mutoko district chairperson of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), Wellington Gweshe confirmed the outbreak.
Gweshe, who is also a teacher at Mutoko High School, said lack of government support to schools had resulted in the COVID-19 outbreaks at most institutions.
“12 out of 25 teachers at the school and four ‘A’ Level students tested positive to COVID-19 on Monday.
They were advised to go for isolation at their respective homes.
Due to lack of resources, the school authorities are now exploring all necessary avenues to ensure that the premises are fumigated.
Gweshe said the school was not conducting regular fumigations in accordance with the standard operation procedures.
“Government never supplied the fumigants.
“Schools will be turned into cemeteries if the situation is left unattended. We urge the government to close schools as soon as possible to avoid more COVID-19 casualties,” he said. But Mutoko district schools inspector Haiwanziwe Kutuka denied the COVID-19 outbreak reports.
“There is nothing like that,” Kutuka said.
Efforts to get a comment from Mashonaland East provincial education director Anatoria Ncube were fruitless as she was not answering her mobile phone.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said: “The government must close all non-exam classes until next year in order to decongest classes and hostels.
“Testing for COVID-19 must be a pre-requisite before opening schools next year. There is need to provide N97 masks and gloves to schools, let alone ensure there is running water every time at all schools.”
Educators Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said: “Insisting on opening schools without considering the lives of learners and teachers demonstrates that in the worldview of education officials, schools are a perfect platform for experiments just for the sake of serving the school calendar. The escalating cases of COVID-19 have been ignored, subsequently endangering many lives.”